100 books like Killer on the Road

By Ginger Strand,

Here are 100 books that Killer on the Road fans have personally recommended if you like Killer on the Road. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion

Nicholas Spencer Author Of Magisteria: The Entangled Histories of Science & Religion

From my list on science and religion through the ages.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been working on science and religion for 15 years now. While there are a number of books on Darwinism and religion (too many to count), the number on Darwin himself and his own (loss of) religion is far smaller. So, I wrote a short "spiritual biography" of the great man. Reading through the Darwin archives, it emerged that there was so much more to the story than “man finds evolution but loses God,” and the more I read around this topic and spoke to the leading academic scholars on the subject, the more I realized that that was the case for science and religion overall.

Nicholas' book list on science and religion through the ages

Nicholas Spencer Why did Nicholas love this book?

The Scopes “Monkey” trial was a global media phenomenon and has passed into history as an epic battle, even more dramatic than the Galileo trial 300 years earlier. It certainly is a dramatic story, and Edward Larson retells it in this book with style and pace.

But, as is so often the case in the history of science and religion, the devil is in the detail, and the popular image of ignorant, demented fundamentalists taking on and being humiliated by the cool logic and evidence-based reasoning of secularists is only part of it. Eugenics, racism, politics, economics, biblical theology, and good old-fashioned commercial greed – all have their role to play in the entertaining story of this famous trial.

By Edward J. Larson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Summer for the Gods as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the summer of 1925, the sleepy hamlet of Dayton, Tennessee, became the setting for one of the twentieth century's most contentious courtroom dramas, pitting William Jennings Bryan and the anti-Darwinists against a teacher named John Scopes, represented by Clarence Darrow and the ACLU, in a famous debate over science, religion, and their place in public education. That trial marked the start of a battle that continues to this day -- in cities and states throughout the country.Edward Larson's classic Summer for the Gods -- winner of the Pulitzer Prize in History -- is the single most authoritative account of…


Book cover of The Devil and Sonny Liston

Claudia Keenan Author Of Waking Dreamers, Unexpected American Lives: 1880-1980

From my list on on American culture that will surprise you.

Why am I passionate about this?

Claudia Keenan is a historian of education whose interest in American culture was awakened during her doctoral studies, when she researched the lives of mid-twentieth-century educators. Growing up in Mount Vernon, N.Y., she developed a strong affinity with place and time among the beautiful old homes and avenues lined with elms, set against a backdrop of racial strife and ethnic politics. She continues to reconstruct and interpret American lives on her blog, and has recently finished a book about Henry Collins Brown, founder of the Museum of the City of New York. Claudia received a BA from the University of Chicago and a PhD from New York University.

Claudia's book list on on American culture that will surprise you

Claudia Keenan Why did Claudia love this book?

“A ghost story, a haunting unto itself”—thus, music journalist Nick Tosches opens his tough tale of the boxer Sonny Liston, two-time heavyweight champion of the world. Born in 1932 into a family of tenant farmers that lived on the border of Arkansas and Mississippi, Liston grew up with violence, reinforced by an early stint in prison. Deftly, Tosches conjures the grim, ruthless culture of professional boxing during the 1950s and 60s. Most poignantly, he shows that Liston never possessed his own life—not in the fields from which he fled as a youth and not as a winner in the ring. He was always owned by white men who operated a fundamentally racist business. For readers interested in Black cultural history, this is a timely book. 

By Nick Tosches,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Devil and Sonny Liston as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A biography of the controversial fighter follows Liston from the mean streets, where he was a petty criminal, to the heavyweight championship and his life as a pawn of organized crime. By the author of Power on Earth. Reprint. 25,000 first printing.


Book cover of A Pickpocket's Tale: The Underworld of Nineteenth-Century New York

John Oller Author Of Rogues' Gallery: The Birth of Modern Policing and Organized Crime in Gilded Age New York

From my list on crime and punishment in the Gilded Age.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’d written modern true crime before—a book that helped solve a 40-year-old cold case—and wanted to try my hand at historical true crime. I live in Manhattan, home to the greatest crime stories of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, so I was able to see the actual locations where the grisliest murders, the biggest bank heists, and the crookedest con games took place. What really drew me in, though, were the many colorful, unforgettable characters, both good and bad, cops and robbers, who walked the bustling streets of Old New York during the fascinating era known as the Gilded Age. 

John's book list on crime and punishment in the Gilded Age

John Oller Why did John love this book?

If you read one biography/memoir of a Gilded Age criminal, make it this one. It tells the story (often in his own words) of the celebrated pickpocket George Appo, an odd little half-Chinese, half-Irish, one-eyed fellow who could make $800 in a few days when most working men made less than that in a year. Appo would rivet New Yorkers when he testified about his second career as a “green goods” con man, working to swindle gullible out-of-towners who came to buy purported counterfeit money at a discount, only to discover that there was nothing but sawdust inside the packages they carried away. Appo refused to name names, though, as he was a self-described “good fellow.”  

By Timothy J. Gilfoyle,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Pickpocket's Tale as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In George Appo's world, child pickpockets swarmed the crowded streets, addicts drifted in furtive opium dens, and expert swindlers worked the lucrative green-goods game. On a good night Appo made as much as a skilled laborer made in a year. Bad nights left him with more than a dozen scars and over a decade in prisons from the Tombs and Sing Sing to the Matteawan State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, where he reunited with another inmate, his father. The child of Irish and Chinese immigrants, Appo grew up in the notorious Five Points and Chinatown neighborhoods. He rose as…


Book cover of Chop Suey: A Cultural History of Chinese Food in the United States

Ian MacAllen Author Of Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American

From my list on when you’re hungering for history.

Why am I passionate about this?

My wife and I were at a red sauce joint in the West Village of Manhattan drinking a bit of wine when we posed the question: who invented all this? We knew Italian American food didn’t look all that much like the food we ate in Italy. Later, at home, I started Googling for answers. None were satisfactory. I read a few books before finding myself at the New York Public library sleuthing through JSTOR. After examining my notes, I said to myself, “oh, I guess I’m writing a book.”

Ian's book list on when you’re hungering for history

Ian MacAllen Why did Ian love this book?

Chinese American food has a rich history, and Andrew Coe explores the arrival of the cuisine in America, how it adapts, and how it is popularized across the country. The book focuses on restaurant culture and recipes, and Coe explains the origins of many dishes like chop suey and how and when the dishes grew into mainstream success, part of a broader American cuisine. The way Coe discusses Chinese American food is similar to how I write about Italian American food in my book. 

By Andrew Coe,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Chop Suey as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1784, passengers on the ship Empress of China became the first Americans to land in China, and the first to eat Chinese food. Today, the United States is home to more Chinese restaurants than any other ethnic cuisine. In this authoritative new history, author Andrew Coe traces the fascinating story of America's centuries-long encounter with Chinese food. CHOP SUEY tells how we went from believing that Chinese meals contained dogs and rats to making
regular pilgrimages to the neighborhood chop suey parlor. From China, the book follows the story to the American West, where both Chinese and their food…


Book cover of When Men Murder Women

Martin Daly Author Of Killing the Competition: Economic Inequality and Homicide

From my list on why people sometimes kill one another.

Why am I passionate about this?

When my late wife Margo Wilson suggested, over 40 years ago, that we should study homicides for what they might reveal about human motives and emotions, her idea seemed zany. But when we plunged into police investigative files and homicide databases, we quickly realized that we had struck gold, and homicide research became our passion. Our innovation was to approach the topic like epidemiologists, asking who is likely to kill whom and identifying the risk factors that are peculiar to particular victim-killer relationships. What do people really care about? Surveys and interviews elicit cheap talk; killing someone is drastic action.  

Martin's book list on why people sometimes kill one another

Martin Daly Why did Martin love this book?

Rebecca and Russell Dobash had studied men's violence against their female partners for decades and were already heroes of the women's movement when they began interviewing incarcerated killers in Britain. Two fine books have resulted, one focused on men who killed women, the other on men who killed men. It is the former, especially the section on intimate partner homicide, that I find most captivating. The Dobashes skilfully blend national statistics with the self-serving testimony of their interviewees, who minimize their lethal acts as things that "happened" rather than things that they did, and apparently believe themselves to be the victims. These insights are essential.    

By R. Emerson Dobash, Russell P. Dobash,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When Men Murder Women as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the United States and Great Britain, 20-30% of all homicides involve the killing of a woman by a man, and it is far rarer when a woman is killed by another woman. Unfortunately, this is not a very well understood phenomenon. Most books on the topic discuss serial killings, but those only make up 2% of sexual murder-a sensationalist subset of a subset. There has never before been a comprehensive book that has covered the entire scope of homicide cases in which men
murder women.

Dobash and Dobash, two seasoned researchers and longtime collaborators in the study of violence…


Book cover of Hurricane Season

Diego Gerard Morrison Author Of Pages of Mourning

From my list on displacement disappearance and drugs in Mexico.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been deeply struck by the rise in violence occurring in Mexico because I have seen it evolve before my eyes while living in and out of the Mexican countryside, places where the wealth and power of drug cartels and their collusion with the state and its institutions, can be seen first-hand. I have come to realize that literature has been the most accurate means of capturing this phenomenon, which has become the zeitgeist of the country, an issue that has bicultural and cross-border connotations because the main consumer is the United States of America, while the ravages of violence are felt in Mexico daily

Diego's book list on displacement disappearance and drugs in Mexico

Diego Gerard Morrison Why did Diego love this book?

I’m keenly drawn to this novel because it navigates the specter between myth and violence, the grandeur of folkloric myth, and the raw side of violence, which are so descriptive of the Mexican past and present. Melchor blurs the lines between a world of quasi-fantastical superstition and hyper-realism, delving at times into the territory of mystery and crime fiction, all of it contained by the paradigm of the Mexican drug war, accurately rendering the reach and expanse of drug consumption and distribution as much as the ravages they bring about.

Centered around the figure of a murdered witch and alleged healer in the depths of the state of Veracruz, this narrative unmasks the mythical traditions of a locality to uncover the violence that lies at the depths of Mexican communities affected by the war on drugs. Melchor masterfully demystifies and rids exoticism from the Mexican imaginary to denounce the marginalization…

By Fernanda Melchor, Sophie Hughes (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hurricane Season as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Witch is dead. And the discovery of her corpse-by a group of children playing near the irrigation canals-propels the whole village into an investigation of how and why this murder occurred. Rumors and suspicions spread. As the novel unfolds in a dazzling linguistic torrent, with each unreliable narrator lingering on new details, new acts of depravity or brutality, Melchor extracts some tiny shred of humanity from these characters that most would write off as utterly irredeemable, forming a lasting portrait of a damned Mexican village.

Like Roberto Bolano's 2666 or Faulkner's greatest novels, Hurricane Season takes place in a…


Book cover of The Names of All the Flowers: A Memoir

Cassandra Lane Author Of We Are Bridges: A Memoir

From my list on lyrical memoirs from the soul.

Why am I passionate about this?

My writing background started in the newsroom where, as a reporter, my job was to interview and tell the stories of others. At one point in my career, my editors assigned me a bi-monthly column, and while I used this space to write about a variety of issues happening in the community, I also used it occasionally to write personal essays. I love this form because the personal story helps us drill down on an issue and, in essence, make deeper connections with the collective. When I left the newsroom, I continued to study and write in essay and memoir form. In my MFA program, I was able to focus on this form exclusively for two years, and I have spent many years crafting my first book-length memoir into form. 

Cassandra's book list on lyrical memoirs from the soul

Cassandra Lane Why did Cassandra love this book?

I have not read a book like Melissa Valentine's The Names of All the Flowers, which is a beautiful, painful, and exquisitely written narrative about her brother Junior, who was gunned down on the streets of Oakland when he was 19. "Say his name, say her name," we chant when yet another one of our brothers or sisters is killed. In this memoir, Valentine gives us not only Junior's name but an intimate look into his head, his heart, his fears, his dreams, his joy.

By Melissa Valentine,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Names of All the Flowers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Set in rapidly gentrifying 1990s Oakland, this memoir—"poignant, painful, and gorgeous" (Alicia Garza)—explores siblinghood, adolescence, and grief in a family shattered by loss.

Melissa and her older brother Junior grow up running around the disparate neighborhoods of 1990s Oakland, two of six children to a white Quaker father and a black Southern mother. But as Junior approaches adolescence, a bullying incident and later a violent attack in school leave him searching for power and a sense of self in all the wrong places; he develops a hard front and falls into drug dealing. Right before Junior’s twentieth birthday, the family…


Book cover of Wicked Lexington, Kentucky

Keven McQueen Author Of Kentucky Book of the Dead

From my list on Kentucky weirdness.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a lifelong Kentuckian with a lifelong fascination for history, true crime, biography, and the supernatural, once I started writing, I pursued these and related topics. The writer Charles Fort’s research methods interested me: he read old newspapers looking for forgotten stories. That seemed a good way to find little-known information. I am a lecturer in the English Department at Eastern Kentucky University and have spent two decades reading old newspapers issue by issue between classes and taking notes on possible stories. The books on my list also include much detail on entertaining obscurities, and I hope you enjoy them. 

Keven's book list on Kentucky weirdness

Keven McQueen Why did Keven love this book?

Of the many strange stories from Kentucky, this book concentrates on ones from Lexington/Fayette County with a witty writing style that strikes a balance of history and humor.

Young-Brown covers several remarkable duels, frontier violence, racism, and the notorious prostitute Belle Brezing. One of the most remarkable stories concerns Col. William Breckinridge, a congressman who delivered lectures to young women on the importance of chastity yet was involved in a sex scandal that destroyed his career.

Historical true crime is well-represented by the story of golf pro Marion Miley, whose 1941 murder could be the topic for a book of its own.

By Fiona Young-Brown,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wicked Lexington, Kentucky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Filled with tales of infamous duels, cheating congressmen, and much more, Wicked Lexington, Kentucky offers the first collection the city's rowdy and ruckus history .


Despite its illustrious beginnings as the "Athens of the west," Lexington has always had a darker side lurking just beneath its glossy sheen. It didn't take long for the first intellectual hub west of the Alleghenies to quickly morph into a city with the same scandalous inclinations as neighboring Louisville and Cincinnati. From Belle Brezing's infamous brothel of the late 1800s, frequented by some of the city's most prominent businessmen, and once pardoned by the…


Book cover of The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

J. Lawrence Graham Author Of Charlotte's War

From my list on understanding the roots of war and peace.

Why am I passionate about this?

I spent the 1970s as an officer in the U.S. Navy UDT/SEAL Teams, giving me insight into the military aspects of peacebuilding. I have spent the last forty years researching and teaching international marketing and negotiations at USC and UC Irvine, after receiving a Berkeley PhD. I was also the director of the UC Irvine Center for Citizen Peacebuilding for ten years. I have published four books on international negotiations and all my ten books in print are on the topic of peace in families, neighborhoods, commerce, and international relations.

J.'s book list on understanding the roots of war and peace

J. Lawrence Graham Why did J. love this book?

Pinker’s masterpiece is hugely important for two reasons.

First, it well makes the case that the world is the most peaceful it has ever been. This is so despite what you see on TV. Second, he explains four reasons why: rule of law, rule of reason, rule of women, and international trade.

I have spent the last forty years teaching and promoting international trade. The fundamental truth of human relations is: The first persuasion was coercion; the first sophistication is exchange. We are almost through with coercion in this 21st century.

Readers of Pinker’s book will walk away with a greater understanding of what it takes to create peace in the modern geo-political climate.

By Steven Pinker,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Better Angels of Our Nature as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The most inspiring book I've ever read' Bill Gates, 2017

'A brilliant, mind-altering book ... Everyone should read this astonishing book' Guardian

'Will change the way you see the world' Daily Mail

Shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize 2012

Wasn't the twentieth century the most violent in history? In his extraordinary, epic book Steven Pinker shows us that this is wrong, telling the story of humanity in a completely new and unfamiliar way. From why cities make us safer to how books bring about peace, Pinker weaves together history, philosophy and science to examine why we are less likely to…


Book cover of Sanctioned Violence in Early China

Peter A. Lorge Author Of The Reunification of China: Peace through War under the Song Dynasty

From my list on Chinese military history.

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest in Chinese military history stems from an early interest in books on strategy like Sun Tzu’s Art of War, and in East Asian martial arts. I have pursued both since high school, translating Sun Tzu as a senior thesis in college (and now returning to it professionally), and practicing a number of martial arts over the last forty years (and writing a book on the history of Chinese martial arts). Although there are plentiful historical records for all aspects of Chinese military history, the field remains relatively neglected, leaving it wide open for new studies. I continue to pursue my teenage interests, writing the books I wanted to read in high school.

Peter's book list on Chinese military history

Peter A. Lorge Why did Peter love this book?

This is the classic study of the changes in violence and war in Chinese society from the Spring and Autumn Period to the Warring States Period. Lewis demonstrates that war, hunting, and the sacrifices of the Spring and Autumn chariot-riding aristocracy were key to demonstrating membership in that class. Political power moved from the feudal rulers to their ministers, who were lower-ranking members of the aristocratic class, and the struggle for power among those men transformed warfare and society. Violence was transformed from a class-defining activity into a state-building tool that had to be controlled by the feudal ruler.

By Mark Edward Lewis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sanctioned Violence in Early China as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book provides new insight into the creation of the Chinese empire by examining the changing forms of permitted violence--warfare, hunting, sacrifice, punishments, and vengeance. It analyzes the interlinked evolution of these violent practices to reveal changes in the nature of political authority, in the basic units of social organization, and in the fundamental commitments of the ruling elite. The work offers a new interpretation of the changes that underlay the transformation of the Chinese polity from a league of city states dominated by aristocratic lineages to a unified, territorial state controlled by a supreme autocrat and his agents. In…


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